Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Premier League: It’s A Wrap - Manchester City Wins Record Fourth Title

Manchester City completed its inexorable march to a fourth consecutive Premier League title with a 3-1 win on the season’s final day over West Ham. The accomplishment marks a first in English football, no other club having won four successive titles since the inception of the English football league in 1888. Phil Foden, the Premier League’s Player of The Year, scored in the second minute of the contest at the Etihad and would add a second on the way to Sunday’s win. The Citizens finished unbeaten in the league at their home venue this season. Rodri, the scorer of Manchester City’s third goal, is unbeaten in the last 74 matches he has appeared in. Manager Pep Guardiola won his 12th league title in 15 seasons as a topflight manager and has now led Manchester City to six Premier League titles in the last seven seasons.

Arsenal battled the Citizens to the end, casting out the demons of last season’s collapse. A 2-1 win over Everton on Sunday was the 16th win in the Gunners’ final 18 matches. A comeback over the Toffees on Sunday was perhaps fittingly capped by Kai Havertz’s 89th minute winner. The former Chelsea man was widely criticized in the early stages of his Arsenal career. Manager Mikel Arteta kept the faith and Havertz played a key role in Arsenal’s outstanding performance in the new calendar year. The Gunners finished just one point shy of the total accumulated by the 2003/04 “Invincibles” Arsenal side and their 89 points would have won the Premier League last season. It was not enough to take down the defending champions as the Gunners fell two points short in the end.

There is a cloud, however, over a champion accused of 115 unadjudicated violations as it raises yet another trophy. The lack of action regarding the accusations against City, while other clubs such as Everton and Nottingham Forest have been assessed point deductions for lesser missteps, does not speak well of the Premier League and taints the accomplishments of its champion.

Only one other manager besides Guardiola has won the Premier League in the last seven seasons. Jurgen Klopp won Liverpool’s first Premier League title in 30 years with the Red’s victory in 2020. Sunday, he said goodbye to the fans at Anfield following Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Wolverhampton. Klopp also won a Champions League title and five other trophies during his time in Merseyside. Liverpool was already in a fixed third place position entering Sunday’s match and thus the day at Anfield was all about the departing legend. On Monday, the club confirmed Feyenoord Manager Arne Slot as Klopp’s successor.

The league’s fourth place finisher and Champions League qualifier Aston Villa was routed at home on Sunday by rampaging Crystal Palace. The Eagles 5-0 win was the sixth victory in a season ending seven match unbeaten run for the south London squad. Young Crystal Palace stars Jean Philippe Mateta and Eberechi Eze posted a hat trick and a brace, respectively, as the Eagles soared into the top half of the table. The Eagles’ tenth place Premier League finish was the highest ever for a Crystal Palace side which seems an altogether different team under new manager Oliver Glasner. Aston Villa, meanwhile, was able to coast across the season’s finish line with fourth place secure due to the late season failures of closest challenger Tottenham Hotspur.

Having meekly capitulated to Manchester City earlier in the week, Spurs entered Sunday having lost five of their six previous matches. The shaky business end of the season for Spurs at least ended on a bit of a high note as the North London side made easy work of Sheffield United, the Premier League’s worst team. Two goals by Dejan Kulusevski helped put the Blades to the sword in a 3-0 Tottenham Hotspur win. Sheffield United departs the league having accumulated the third lowest point total in league history and having conceded 104 goals, a new Premier League record.

Sheffield United, Burnley, and Luton Town all wasted everyone’s time this season as, for only the second time in Premier League history, all three promoted sides will be immediately going right back down. Burnley and Luton Town were losers on Sunday to Nottingham Forest and Fulham, respectively. Luton Town was the best of the relegation rabble this season, capturing an abominable 26 points from their 38 matches. As with the Champions League qualifiers, the relegation victims were clear entering the weekend.

What will not be entirely clear until next weekend is which clubs will be playing in the Europa League and Europa Conference League next season. Tottenham Hotspur, as the league’s fifth-place finisher, is assured of one of the two Europa League berths. Chelsea is guaranteed European football after its fifth consecutive win, a 2-1 victory over Bournemouth which featured a half field moonshot goal by midfielder Moises Caicedo. It was Caicedo’s first goal for the Blues whose late season surge will see them play in the Europa League if Manchester City wins the FA Cup. A Manchester United win in the cup gives the Red Devils that ticket and Chelsea will need to be content with a Europa Conference League berth. Newcastle nosed out Manchester United for seventh place in the table after both clubs won on Sunday. The Magpies blasted Brentford 4-2. The Red Devils won 2-0 over a disinterested Brighton club which saw Manager Roberto De Zerbi announce his departure from the club just days before the Seagulls final match. Newcastle now holds the Europe Conference League ticket pending it being taken away if Manchester United defeats Manchester City in the FA Cup final on Saturday. A Manchester United win would mean the Red Devils play in the Europa League, Chelsea participates in the lesser Europa Conference League competition and Newcastle is left to focus on its domestic schedule.

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